Be My Baby Tonight
Kasey Michaels’ Be My Baby Tonight was a fun surprise. I have read and enjoyed her traditional Regency Romances, but had never read one of her contemporary releases. So I requested to review this book without knowing much about it. I soon realized two things: the hero is a baseball player and the sport is mentioned throughout the story, and the book revolves around the marriage-in-trouble plot. Normally either of these factors would make me leave the book on the shelf and both together are almost enough to send me running the other way. But since I had agreed to review the novel, I headed for my favorite reading chair and got started.
Let me say, one of the joys of reviewing is when you end up enjoying a book you would not have picked up on your own. This was the case with Be My Baby Tonight. Like Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Kasey Michaels has the ability to make a sport (in this case, baseball) integral to the storyline with out overwhelming the reader. You do not have to be a baseball fan to follow any of the action.
The book opens when Suzanna Trent goes to a Phillies game to see Tim Trehan play. Suzanne and Tim grew up together and were friends from elementary through high school. Suzanne had a crush on Tim all through high school, but to Tim she had been “good old Suz,” the friend who could always be counted on to get him out of a jam. Realizing her crush was hopeless; Suzanne opted to go to college on the West Coast and dropped contact with Tim. Now she is a successful business woman who’s lost her baby fat, and she is curious to see what Tim with think of the new Suz.
Tim is now an All-Star player, but things have not been going smoothly for him for the last year or so. His twin brother, Jack, who played for the Yankees, was injured and can no longer play baseball. His brother also got married, and now has a baby daughter and a second child on the way. Tim is very superstitious and has always felt that whatever happens to Jack would eventually happen to him. A few small injuries have him very worried that he, like Jack, has career-ending injury in his future. He comes up with the questionable theory that if he deliberately does one of the things his brother has done the rest of his brother’s fate can be avoided.
Along comes Suzanne. Not only is she a knockout, but she and Tim hit it off immediately. They have great chemistry and Tim knows Suzanne has always had feelings for him. He figures he likes her and so proposes. Suzanne thinks Tim has finally stopped seeing her as just a good friend and accepts. Everybody is happy, right?
Wrong. Neither Tim nor Suzanne stopped to think about the work a true marriage entails. Also, Tim never stopped to think about what would happen to his marriage when Suzanne finally learns why he asked her to marry him. And here is where the book really started to work for me. The characters in this novel are great and the actions they take make sense. The reason Tim and Suzanne’s runaway marriage is plausible in the first place is because of their shared history. When the superstitious nonsense finally hits the fan, does Suzanne run away from Tim and hid out for seven years, never telling him she had his child in secret? Does Tim become bitter at the duplicity of women, turning into a hardened alpha male who will never let another get truly close to him until his overwhelming passion for the woman he loved and drove away overcomes his reserve and he finally has to track her down and have her back at all costs? No, no and a thousand times no. And let me tell you, I was one happy reader when I realized that Kasey Michaels had created some very likable and sane characters.
Suzanne has several good cries, accepts the sometimes overbearing help of her new family, and gets to work on her marriage. Tim, who by this time has realized how important Suzanne is to him, starts to get his act together. And although both have quite a bit of growing up to do, they are such great characters the reader is cheering for them to get it together. Tim was exceptionally well done. He was not perfect and there was some whining and bitching involved, but his character grew throughout the story.
The novel also has several very well done secondary characters who add to the story. Jack and Keely, who had their story told in Love to Love You Baby, are well represented in Be My Baby Tonight. I also enjoyed the other members of Tim’s rather quirky family. The characters in the novel are interesting and believable, and several of the secondary characters are quite funny.
I did feel the book lost some of its momentum in the middle to last third (although the ending managed speed the pace up nicely). There were a few too many scenes of a teary Suzanna and frankly, I did think Tim could have done a little more groveling. Keeping track of who knew what about the pregnancy tended to get old fast. Also, from the cover and the blurb on the book I did expect the story to be a lot more light hearted and humorous. Although it has its moments, Be My Baby Tonight is not really a comedy. These caveats aside, I would definitely recommend Be My Baby Tonight, especially to those who enjoy novels with reoccurring characters.